In a time that we are a nation at war, actually one should ad an s if it were grammatically correct, a nation at wars. Because we entertain more than one simultaneously and have unfortunately not yet utilized recent developments as a striking reason to stop the literal and financial arteriotomy. We are used to this seemingly perpetual state, that allows too much to fly uncommented and un-criticized under the numbed citizen’s radar, while we are over-newsed and under-informed, we, the citizens, who after all pay for the continuous stream of money needed to feed this now corporately tainted age-old beast.
Money we do note even have and that should either not be spent or at least used domestically. A society in which, the richer are getting richer and the poorer are getting poorer, Deloitte just published their report about rising number of millionaires, starts to be dangerous and easily affected by ideas that would not have much footing in a healthy society where the majority is satisfied. So, why not visit an earlier period in history, the time of the birth of 20th century demagoguery?
For example a film to see or to revisit is 2002’s “Max”. A story about fictional art dealer and maimed war veteran Max Rothman (John Cusack) and aspiring artist Adolf Hitler (Noah Taylor); blending fact and fiction, set against the realistically depicted backdrop of Germany post World War I around the time the dangerously humiliating and calamitous treaty of Versailles was signed.
The movie catches the germinating hostile political climate and explores the brief window in which it seemed possible, that Adolf Hitler would pour his broiling overheated emotions incited by his own veteran experience and the war wounded, humiliated German soul into art, rather than dooming millions of people in real life, changing the course of history.
Beloved US-national treasure John Cusack steps out of the image, seared due to his early decade and generation epitomizing successes into most Americans minds, and gives a career-defining performance.
He does not show us his much publicized sides, hides his adorable idiosyncrasies and even his usually dominating speech patterns and inflections are replaced by ones of somebody the actor successfully created rather than the ones that seem to be the human’s default.
Also on a romantic level, Max Rothman seems to be searching. His wife seems a bit at a loss to balance the home coming soldier, the husband who came back from war a changed man. He loves his wife, yet he entertains a young woman who challenges him on other level’s attention.
That an inspiring, soothing fling and living outside the box or not even having a box to live in is not per definition a negative thing is such a taboo topic. Ironically even more in a nation like the US, that seems more interested in people’s bedrooms than any other. Recent news stories make the art of having a fling more of a current issue than ever. It could fill books, since it is lost and hardly understood today and since we are in the US, not to elaborate too much on this taboo question. Knowing the boundaries and rules of such engagements, that are neither designed to replace nor challenge the position of the wife or the husband as the fundamental part of society and parenthood, but rather as an enriching additional aspect, but that are such a red flag in the US, such a non-issue that it ends up being the elephant in the room, when the weakness of the flesh strikes and subsequently actions ruin lives, existences, sustainably influences children’s lives and furthermore draws people into people’s in particular politician’s bedrooms, more than any other nation.
Unthinkable for most to live outside the set boxes, streamlined given if we are lucky treasure hunt, if we are unlucky paint by numbers stencil, that we are required and so we give in to the pressure, to check boxes and live life in this preconceived shape.
Our histories make Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the US radically different places and that begins, but by far does not end with the investment into war versus social endeavors. Even more so it is interesting to observe these two constructs throughout history and learn from it.
There is so much more that could be said about this movie and it’s themes, that are more current than ever. For example, that our biggest warriors are also the fiercest defenders of peace. And how could we not propagate and support peace, when the ones who have been there stand for it? How does it make us feel about war mongering, if a veteran tells us: “because if l’ve learned anything over the past four years, it’s that we all shit the same, scream the same, and die the same.”?
Peace is always possible, but probably easiest to achieve before a situation gets out of control. What makes this movie in particular interesting are the beginning stages, the imagined, yet possible roots and what would be if the Adolf Hitler would have been accepted into the renowned “Universität für Angewandte Kunst”?
John Cusack plays opposite Noah Taylor’s daring depiction of Hitler as a struggling human, not the monster he is far too easy and convenient for us to see him as. The fragility of the construct of society humanity and raw emotions are what is far more fear instilling than any one-dimensional abomination could ever be.